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Obama Holds Closed-Door Meeting With Mormon Leaders About Immigration and Religious Freedom

"The president expressed appreciation for the church’s leadership role on resolving the issues of religious freedom and non-discrimination..."

Image credit: The Associated Press

President Barack Obama held a closed-door meeting with leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Thursday night, with the group discussing immigration and religious freedom, among other subjects.

"The President is pleased to meet with top LDS leaders as so many presidents before him have done," White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz told reporters before the meeting. "Among other issues, they will discuss the church's long record of service, including its work on disaster relief and other humanitarian issues, and the need to fix our broken immigration system."

On his first trip to Utah as president, Obama met with church elders Tom Perry and Todd Christofferson and presidents Dieter Uchtdorf and Henry Eyring. Uchtdorf had previously spent time meeting with Obama at the White House in 2014, where he shared his views on immigration reform, according to KSTU-TV.

President Barack Obama speaks to members of the media during his last news conference of the year in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House December 19, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images) President Barack Obama (Getty Images)

Schultz said that the group, which met at the Sheraton Hotel in Salt Lake City, also discussed the need to find common ground in the areas of benevolent service both in the U.S. and abroad, according to the Weekly Standard.

A press release published by the church said that the visit lasted 20 minutes, confirming that the topics discussed centered on "families, immigration, humanitarian aid, and religious freedom and non-discrimination."

"The church leaders expressed their appreciation to President Obama for the example he and his wife provide through their healthy marriage and family life," the release read. "The president expressed appreciation for the church’s leadership role on resolving the issues of religious freedom and non-discrimination as well as the church’s worldwide humanitarian aid efforts."

Not in attendance at the meeting was The Church of Latter-day Saints president Thomas S. Monson, who was saving up his strength for the General Conference this weekend, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

While reporters were not welcomed into the meeting, White House Press secretary Josh Earnest told KSTU-TV beforehand that Obama was looking forward to the meeting and that it was good timing for the president to meet with the Mormon leaders.

"Obviously, we’ve got Christians all around the world who are celebrating Easter this weekend, and so it’ll be a good time for him to spend a little time with the LDS leadership as well," Earnest said.

(H/T: Weekly Standard)

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